FRANK R. KING, CDR, USN
Frank King '07
Date of birth: October 15, 1884
Date of death: July 12, 1919
From the 1907 Lucky Bag:
Biography & Loss
Born in Montevallo, Alabama, King was appointed midshipman at the Naval Academy 6 May 1903 and graduated 11 February 1907. After serving as passed midshipman, he was commissioned Ensign 12 February 1909.
King served in Arkansas, USS Hartford, Milwaukee, Pennsylvania, and Illinois before attaining the rank of Commander 21 September 1918.
Comdr. King assumed command of the trawler Richard Buckley 7 July 1919 during minesweeping operations in the North Sea. On 12 July 1919 his ship struck a mine and went down in only seven minutes.
During the crisis King exerted himself to see that all of his crew might be saved. King's feeling for his men was evidenced by the fact that his final act before going down with his ship was to strap his own life preserver to a stunned sailor and help him over the side. Comdr. King received the Distinguished Service Medal for his valor.
Frank was survived by his wife and daughter (who was mistakenly offered an appointment to the Naval Academy many decades before women were allowed to attend).
He is not listed on the killed in action panel in the front of Memorial Hall.
From Together We Served:
- 1907-1909, Naval Sea Units
- 1909-1911, USS Hartford (steam frigate)
- 1911-1913, USS Arkansas (BB-33)
- 1913-1915, USS Milwaukee (C-21)
- 1915-1917, USS Illinois (BB-7)
- 1917-1918, USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (Posthumously) to Commander Frank Ragan King, United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility as Commander of a Division of trawlers, engaged in the difficult and hazardous operation of sweeping for and removing mines in the North Sea Barrage; and especially for his heroic conduct on the occasion of the destruction by mine explosion of his flagship, the U.S.S. RICHARD BULKLEY, of which he was also the Commanding Officer. Although stunned by the explosion, he made every effort to save the lives and to rescue men entrapped by steam in the fireroom. The rapid sinking of the vessel prevented his success in the undertaking. Finding the ship about to sink he proceeded to bridge, where he took his station, and went down with the ship.
General Orders: Authority: Navy Book of Distinguished Service (Stringer)
Division: U.S.S. Richard Bulkley
USS King (DD 242) was named for Frank; the ship was sponsored by his widow, Allene.